H D - S E N S E I

A view on Hi-def DVDs by Gary W. Tooze


Introduction: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player (firmware upgraded)

Sony BDP-S300 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player (firmware upgraded)
Sony DVP NS5ODH SD-DVD player (region-free and HDMI)

Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze







The World's Fastest Indian [Blu-ray]


(Roger Donaldson, 2005)




Review by Gary Tooze



Video: Magnolia



Region FREE

Feature Runtime: 2:07:00

Chapters: 13

Feature film disc size: 20.5 Gig

One dual-layered disc

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 13th, 2007



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: MPEG-2


English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
English: Dolby Digital 5.1

Spanish, English, none


• Commentary with director Roger Donaldson
• Making of (45:27) - SD 4:3 letterboxed
• Burt Munroe offerings to the God of Speed (27:30)


50GB Blu-ray Disc


Product Description: In the late 1960’s, after a lifetime of perfecting his classic Indian motorcycle, Burt sets off from the bottom of the world, Invercargill, New Zealand, to clock his bike at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. With all odds against him, Burt puts his irrepressible kiwi spirit to the test, braving the new world on a shoestring budget. He makes fast friends of many he encounters along the way who find themselves swept up in his energy and singular determination. Burt’s quest culminates in an unlikely conclusion and remains legendary within the motorcycle community to this day....




The Film:

But while supposedly Oscar-worthy films can often be far too worthy in the pejorative sense, New Zealand-based writer-director Roger Donaldson’s film is an appealing labour of love. Donaldson, an Australian who moved to Kiwi-land when he was 20 years old, just two years before Munro set his land-speed record and became a national hero, has imbued his film with a winning streak of optimism. That optimism partly arises from the type of man Munro was, a never-say-die, good-natured kind of fella. Beyond that, however, Donaldson has plotted an unflaggingly positive turn of events — something largely out of fashion in cinema in our cynical modern age — which time and again he uses to cleverly wrong-foot the viewer.



A wonderfully uplifting and charming biopic that’s sure to win over all but the most mean-spirited. And the motorbike races really rocket, too.. 


  Excerpt from Empire Magazine in the UK located HERE

Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The World’s Fastest Indian was projected theatrically at 2.35:1. However, this Blu-ray has an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with the support the director Roger Donaldson. I think I'd prefer to see it as it was shown in the cinema with some of those great desert vistas presumably looking quite impressive. Anyway, despite a 'lesser' MPEG-2 encoding the image quality of this dual-layered Blu-ray (feature taking up 20.5 Gig) is very strong. Detail, contrast, colors and minimal noise all seem well above average. the expandable screen captures below can probably do a better job of selling the image than I can. Suffice to say I was suitably impressed.
















Audio & Music:  
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 has some great moments from the purring of engines to their same explosions of acceleration. I admit, I head-turned a few times. I didn't sample the other option, a English: Dolby Digital 5.1, as I was suitably impressed with the former. All good. J. Peter Robinson original score seemed to adeptly support the film narrative. There are English or Spanish subtitle options. 




Donaldson gives a great commentary - he shows his technical knowledge as well as his unrivaled passion for the project as an accurate biopic. I have a great amount of respect for the man. It is very much worth indulging in. There are some good other supplements offered on this
Blu-ray. I especially enjoyed Roger Donaldson’s 1971 documentary “Offerings to the Gods of Speed” which appears to be the impetus in the creation of the film. We learn about Burt Monroe and it further instills the incredible acting of Anthony Hopkins in duplicating this man's persona. There is also a thorough 'Making of...' at 3/4 of an hour. I'm very appreciative of the effort in putting these extras on the disc.



Bottom line:
This film has been unjustly neglected - I don't know whether it was the title or... whatever. Personally this is a fabulous viewing experience. The
Blu-ray transfer is very solid and makes for a wonderful presentation in your home theater. Super film - looking and sounding justifiably strong. Warmly and highly recommended!

Gary Tooze

September 25th, 2008








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